Behaving Intelligently 

We live in an information age. The goal now is not to know the answer, or even to find the answer, but to know how to behave intelligently when we don't know the answer.

Often we feel we have failed - are failing, if we get stuck. In fact, just the opposite is true. Getting stuck is a sign that we are challenging and extending ourselves.

Going a bit deeper with that explanation ...

A critical distinction of intelligent human beings is that they not only have information, they also know how to act on it. They know how to perform effectively under those challenging conditions that demand strategic reasoning, insightfulness, perseverance, creativity and craftsmanship to resolve a complex problem. While they may be deemed "smart" because they possess many answers, they also know how to behave intelligently when they don't know the answers. As educators, we should focus on teaching learners how to produce knowledge, rather than reproduce knowledge.

Some strategies that children can use are:

 Take a minute to think about it.

 Look at the goal to be sure you understand what to do.

 Read through what you have done so far.

 Ask a friend to check your learning.

 Use equipment.

 Look at the learning displays.

 Ask a friend who understands the learning.

 If you are still stuck, ask a teacher or parent, or adult who can help.

The most important one of all though is...

Take a risk! Just have a go!

All of this relates to a topic I have been addressing with our teachers lately - Hard Fun.

Hard Fun can be expressed in many different ways, all of which all boil down to the conclusion that everyone likes hard challenging things to do. 

But they have to be the right things matched to the individual and to the culture of the times. These rapidly changing times challenge educators to find areas of work that are hard in the right way: they must connect with the kids and also with the areas of knowledge, skills and ethics adults will need for the future world.

Effective and meaningful learning is inspired through activities that are 



    involve lots of thinking 

    aim to create outcomes that are new

That is a definition of ‘fun’ 

    Learning has substance and challenge 

    The learner comes away with a sense of it having  

    been worth doing. 

That is a definition of of ‘hard’.

Mathematician, computer scientist and educator at MIT, Professor Seymour Papert, developer of Logo and Lego Mindstorms, calls this way of learning ‘hard fun’ (Papert, 2002). Inspired by a child’s comments about learning the programming language Logo, Papert argues for learning experiences that are fun because they are hard (Papert, 1996, in Barrow, 2005). That is, experiences should appeal to students’ interests and enjoyment but should also be challenging and stretch learners to develop their own good habits. 

Barrett (2005) helps in unpacking Papert’s notion of ‘hard fun’ in learning. He suggests the qualities of ‘fun’ include experiences of 




He suggests that the ‘hard’ in learning might involve seeking answers to challenging problems, being actively engaged in doing and thinking and questioning and changing one’s beliefs and attitudes.

Take a Mindstorms robot - by being left to figure out how to make it move using a computer, motors, sensors and Lego, a child learns complex ideas about maths, physics, programming and logic.

The "resistance" the child meets with from the real world as they try to make this Lego object do as it wants presents endless challenges to be overcome - and the child learns through gradually getting it right.

This is "hard fun"

Making sure the learning process is deep and enriching - and hard - rather than shallow is an important teacher's role.Hard Fun Is Not Just for Kids

Hard fun has come to serve as my guiding principle for my adult life. What I took away from Negroponte and  Papert’s work is that hard fun might just be the best way to keep the kid-like spirit alive in grown-ups, throughout our lives.

To sum up - … "hard fun learning" has to be the right things matched to the individual and to their culture. 

Our challenge - to find areas of work that are hard in the right way: 

    that connect with our learners 

    also with the areas of knowledge, skills and ethics 

    they will need for the future world.

We are introducing Hard Fun into the Lexicon of Learning - “learnish” - that we speak in our classrooms and our school.

The final word from arguably one of the smartest men to have lived, Dr Steven Hawking:

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”

Change can be hard, it can be fun, behaving intelligently in the face of change is Hard Fun.

If you are still with me to this point - awesome, you persevered and I hope you gained something from it.

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